CERES -- Manteca High has never been short on confidence, an attitude that comes from winning three section titles in seven years, and the Buffs were full of it Friday.
Three times in the first half Manteca gambled on fourth down, and they converted all three during a 41-7 Valley Oak League win over Ceres.
"Our guys were controlling the line, and we've got confidence our defense will hold if we don't get it," said Buffs offensive coordinator Neil MacDannald.
That attitude has led Manteca (6-1, 3-1) to two consecutive routs after its stunning 7-6 loss to Sierra in Week 5.
Manteca will try to tap into it again next Friday when it hosts rival Oakdale (5-2, 4-0). With only two teams going to the playoffs and Sierra (6-1, 4-0) having beaten Manteca, it's a must-win for the Buffs.
The Buffs prepped for their big game by throwing an array of weapons at Ceres:
Marquis Miller had 21 carries for 115 yards and a TD, cutting back at the line to slip past would-be tacklers.
Reggie Bell caught three balls for 62 yards, and his circus-like, 21-yard TD made it 27-7 in the third quarter.
Quarterbacks Matt Barber and Jacob Salas each accounted for a TD. Barber threw for 95 yards and Salas ran for a nine-yard TD on fourth-and-3 in the second quarter.
"Jacob gives us a different look at the QB position," said MacDannald, noting Salas is one of Manteca's fastest players. "It's another thing the defense has to prepare for."
Josh Edwards put Ceres on top with a 23-yard TD pass, but the fun ended there. The Buffs had four interceptions -- Anthony May, Jake Salamoni, Junior Perez and Christian Quiwa -- and three of the picks set up touchdowns.
If Manteca beats Oakdale, and then Oakdale tops Sierra in Week 8, it could create a three-way for first place.